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Fight the Future

Joseph Epstein asks, "Are newspapers doomed?"

To begin with familiar facts, statistics on readership have been pointing downward, significantly downward, for some time now. Four-fifths of Americans once read newspapers; today, apparently fewer than half do. Among adults, in the decade 1990-2000, daily readership fell from 52.6 percent to 37.5 percent. Among the young, things are much worse: in one study, only 19 percent of those between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four reported consulting a daily paper, and only 9 percent trusted the information purveyed there; a mere 8 percent found newspapers helpful, while 4 percent thought them entertaining.

As we know them now, certainly. And that prediction has little (but not nothing) to do with media bias. Mostly, newspapers are doomed by technological change. Papers which embrace the new technologies (The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal come to mind) will remain in existence, albeit in new forms.

The rest had better hop on board or prepare for doom.

(Hat tip, Mike Daley.)